#196 – Dreams of Anatomy

(1988, GB, 130 min) Dir Anthony Greenwood. Cast Patrick Stewart, Tim Roth, James Fox.

Another exquisitely dressed piece from professional intellectual window dresser Anthony Greenwood. Stewart is Phillipe O, a synesthesic composer in a massive white box of an apartment who is in the midst of his magnum opus – a suite of music about the human body with a piece for each part. Of course he’s blocked though with the last piece produced that of the Anus to be performed all in brass section. Instead of working he now divides his time between haunting his home in silk dressing gown and having body part nightmares. Tim Roth features as Jawney Scaggs, his working class former protégé turned bitter rival who turns up on television to promote his massive performances with excruciating bad-boy interviews, all sunglasses indoors and chewing gum. James Fox is, in a nod to his role in Cammell and Roeg’s Performance, the uncouth gangster funding O’s new work “’cause me muvver loves the music” and who shows himself unreceptive to not getting what he wants. Before long O has lost it and has traversed the abandoned and wind-ravaged streets of London to kidnap and dismember Scaggs for inspiration. All done in the best possible taste, of course.

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#195 Mon Maître Chien (Dog Boss)

(1985, Bel, 105 min) Dir Schipperke Tervuren. Cast Cierny Sery, Shiba Inu, Keeshond Samoyed.

Patrice (the perpetually hangdog Sery) has spent his life working his way up the ranks of the bottled water company Belle Eau Belge to get to the position of vice-president where he stalls, having to endure a decade of the abuse of the president Charles (a desiccated Samoyed) and deal with his bizarre requests. When the president dies Patrice thinks that his time has come but unfortunately for him Charles set out in his will that his dog – a chow-chow called Puffy Lion – take over the company. To Patrice’s surprise and annoyance the universally senile board approve this and thus he ends up second in command to a small dog that hates him. Initially he waits for things to go wrong on their own but is constantly thwarted – a potential business deal with the Japanese company Airashīdesu Nihonjin Mizu ends up more successful than imagined because the Japanese representative thinks that Puffy Lion has a nice face. In the end Patrice is forced to take matters into his own hands… A fantastically broad, surreal Belgian farce.

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#194 – Blue Octagon, The (Octogone Bleu, L’)

(2010, Can, 110 min) Dir Yorgos Solberg. Cast Felicity Bananier, Alain Nori, Reynoldson Caves.

French Canadian wig-out cult flick with rising star Felicity Bananier as Eva, a student who uncovers what she believes to be a vast conspiracy to keep humanity subjugated. This is part one of the three parts of this very rigidly compartmentalised film – an effective, paranoid thriller where her every footfall is shadowed by another and the whose location of Montreal University is fantastically used for maximum eeriness, despite the film being shot during the summer months. The second part details her post-abduction interrogation at the hands of the secretive Blue Octagon in a fantastic set of neon and perspex where she is set at by her interrogator (the supernaturally still, seven-foot tall Caves). This is where the films descent into real strangeness begins with long wordless stretches of her psychological breakdown realised as a constant bombardment of flying coloured shapes that will no doubt have a similarly hypnotic effect on the viewer as it does on Eva. The less revealed here of the actually insane wordless psychedelic final act the better. To be seen on the big screen or, failing that, at a distance of about three inches from a huge television.

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#193 – Devils in Harbin, The (Teufel in Harbin, Die)

(1979, WGer, 111 min) Dir Nickolaus V. Müller. Cast Wolfgang Feebler, Alfred Abel, Patti Bapp.

Of course Nickolaus V. Müller, the constant enfant terrible of German cinema, would reimagine the spectre of European terrorism in the form of this absurdist comedy. Based less on the exploits of his countrymen the Red Army Faction and more on the Italian Red Brigade’s kidnapping of Aldo Moro meshed with the Symbionese Liberation Army’s brainwashing of Patty Hearst, Devils sees incompetent middle class terrorist group the Red Devils (who have no connection to Manchester United football team or parachute displays) abduct fictional German President Hans Beuller and persuade him to their side. Of course their kidnapping is all an accident with Beuller initially mistaking the group for a half-dozen Young Christian supporters and his eventual indoctrination more to do with LSD spiking and free love than his prolonged exposure to their muddled ideology. By the end he’s joining in on the raid of a television station dressed, like them, as a Nazi in clown paint. As subtle as a sledgehammer and as politically incisive as a children’s drawing it remains unmissable due to the sheer verve of the filmmaking.

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#192 – No Bread for Brenda

(1943, GB, 90 min) Dir Basil MacDougall. Cast Maggie Friend, William Hartnell, Phillipa George.

Wartime propaganda comedy starring the child star ‘Darling of the Second World War’ Maggie Friend as Brenda Leavensy, a young girl whose desire for her favourite pre-war crusty loaf runs so strong that she’ll do anything – anything – to get it after four years of denial. It all starts innocently enough with young Brenda going from house to house, scrounging together whatever she can of the necessary ingredients but by the end of the film what is perceived as her patriotic fervour has found her kidnapped by the Nazi’s to the heart of Germany where she is to be appraised by a comedy Hitler (future Who Hartnell who, it is said, detested the role). Of course it’s 1943 and it’s a British propaganda film so before long Ol’ Adolf is embarrassingly incapacitated down a chimney while dressed as Santa (don’t ask) and Brenda is winging her way back to Blighty to be greeted by more bread than she could have ever dreamed of. The humour’s dated and the sentiment is plastered thick but, as you’d expect, there’s a certain historical interest to the film.

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